Volleyball Australia has moved to optimise the Tokyo campaign for Australia’s leading beach volleyball players with the objective of qualifying up to three teams for Tokyo and bringing home at least one Olympic medal.
The women’s campaign headquarters will be relocated from South Australia to the Queensland Academy of Sport facilities in Brisbane.
Headlining the women’s program will be the 2019 World Championship bronze medallists and Olympic medal aspirants, Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, along with their coaches, Kirk Pitman and Brad Tutton.
The relocation from Adelaide will allow outdoor training at a time when they would normally be competing in the northern hemisphere.
They will also continue to prepare for a resumption of the World Tour later this year.
“VA is doing everything possible to take advantage of the break in the international competition schedule and being in Australia during winter. For our women’s program, Queensland provides the perfect environment to focus on staying healthy and working hard on and off the court in preparation for the Games in 2021”, VA CEO Andrew Dee said.
“There’s also the possibility that the World Tour may not bring back all events in 2021, and with that scenario, it will increase the presence of our best athletes on the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour”, Dee said.
Acting Executive Director of the Queensland Academy of Sport Troy Ayres says the QAS is excited to have Australia’s number one beach volleyball pair come to Brisbane to prepare for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“We look forward to welcoming Taliqua and Mariafe and their support team to the QAS and their presence will no doubt inspire the next generation of volleyball athletes who also train at the QAS and Sandstorm on a daily basis.”
Clancy and Artacho del Solar will be joined in Queensland on a full-time basis by Phoebe Bell and Jessyka Ngaumo.
Meanwhile, Nicole Laird and Bec Palmer will visit regularly as part of a deliberate strategy to also enhance their preparation.
The men’s program will continue to be based at the South Australian Institute of Sport (SASI) in Adelaide.
The program includes 2018 Commonwealth Games champions, Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann, along with their coach Andrew Schacht.
They will train alongside young stars, Max Guehrer and Zac Schubert, with Margo Wiltens engaged as their coach.
Margo’s appointment follows additional support provided by the South Australian Institute of Sport, which will significantly intensify the training environment.
SASI director, Wes Battams, says his organisation is right behind Volleyball Australia’s decision to drive a targeted campaign to get the best possible results in Beach Volleyball in Tokyo; “We have two really strong men’s teams based here in Adelaide, as well as a critical training and talent pool,” says Battams.
“This new men’s campaign-focus will enable us to maximise our support of the men’s teams to help them qualify for the first time since 2008,” adds Battams, “The further support from VA brings an additional international coach to Adelaide as well as a new SASI partnership to directly deliver sports science support to the men’s program. This will sharpen the focus on the critical mission, initially for Tokyo, but with eyes on Paris 2024.”
“The commitment of the athletes, coaches and their families, and the importance of the support of both SASI and the QAS can’t be underestimated. It’s a reflection of how serious we all are about achieving success in Tokyo”, Dee said.